Human SexualityBecause We Fear: The Danger of Sexual Ignorance Among Nigerian Girls
A university fellowship leader in educating young girls on sexual matters. She tells them to stay away from sex and abstain from it because, one, God hates fornication; and two, abstinence is the safest way to abstain from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Agnes, the fellowship leader goes on and on, explaining to these girls how boys conceive devilish motives to deflower them and ‘dump’ them.
She says things like “Never open your legs for any man outside marriage. They will come to you with sweet words, seduce you, and buy you gifts but at the end of the day, all they want to do is to get down in your pants. The moment they sleep with you, they forget about you and move on and then you begin to feel worthless because you have given away your pride- what should be given only to your husband.”
These girls listen to her, process what she says, and nurse the fear of being worthless the moment they have sex outside marriage and form the perception of boys as devils, altering their sociable skills amongst their peers.
 After the fellowship, Agnes’ friend, Julia, who had spent the weekend at her place, begins to tease her on their way home that evening.

Easter Ajayi, a person living with HIV/AIDS, attends a community mobilization workshop on the disease at the Salvation Army office in Lagos.

In the middle of their chitchat, Julia interrupts.
“Ehen, Agnes, those things you were telling those girls in church, how far na?”
Agnes expresses surprise.
“Don’t look at me like that, Agnes. We both know you gave your life to Christ after Julius broke up your relationship of five years.”
“Ehen? what about that?” Agnes peeked.
“Wait o, Agnes, so you mean say those things wey you dey tell those girls for church, say make dem close leg, run enter sambisa if dem see man. You think say e dey all right? Like, you yourself, you do like that abi?” Julia code-switches.
“Look, Julia, if where you’re going to is what I’m thinking, then you’ve got it wrong.”
“I’ve got it wrong? No be you still dey knack bro James every Friday night?”
“Shhh. Dey lower your voice. Person fit hear you.” Agnes whispers.
“Agnes, na true say I no be saint but you are lying to those girls. You are breeding ignorance and timidity in them. At least, as undergraduates, they deserve to be enlightened na.”
“See,” Agnes pauses to make a point, “adult no dey use him hand dem teach pikin bad thing. Na dem go use their hand learn am naturally, on their own.”
The above scenario reveals the status quo of sexual ignorance in Nigerian society. Somehow, there is this belief that hoarding holistic sexual knowledge is a proper, modest, and godly way to raise young adults.
Centering on girls, we would rather raise girls who would contract STDs out of ignorance than actually orient them on the various approach to safe sex because we fear.
Fear what exactly?
I wonder-
because despite the one-way commandment of abstinence, cases of sexually transmitted diseases is still on the rise and it is pathetic what disconnection, gross distance, and enmity this myopic message has caused between the male and female gender in Nigeria.
Even in a bit to give this narrow message a try, sex has been conventional, tied to marriage for girls and called a fling or a game for guys in this country that we quickly condemn a lady and excuse, in a breath, a guy. The commonsensical question now becomes “If sex is tied to marriage for women and called a game for men, how then are these women protected from STDs?”
This is to show that it does not matter how enthusiastic a message of abstinence is being preached as a shield from sexual diseases or unwanted pregnancy. If we do not do the right thing, if we do not array the options of safe sex to these budding adults, if we do not educate them on the pros and cons of each option, if we do not make these girls own their choices in saying an affirmative yes and a meaningful certain no to sex, if we do not stop tagging sex as bad and expecting girls to learn all about it on their own (like sister Agnes believes), then the following will keep happening in our society.
1. We will continue raising girls with sexually transmitted diseases than girls that understand the various options at their disposal and choose their preferred precaution to safe sex.
2. We will keep widening the emotional and social gap between both genders as the male are subconsciously the devil and the girls, the ones that ‘cast and bind’ the devil.
3. We will keep on raising men who pride in the glory of being a ‘hunter’- ‘scavenger’ in actuality- and who blame their irresponsibility on biology as they expect that the responsibility of protection during sex lies primarily on women.
4. We will always produce girls whose yes is a yes because they have either been promised marriage, or trying to secure one, and whose no can be changed to a yes just with some extra nudge.
5. We will keep training girls who leave their sexuality in the hands of another; girls who do no feel confident enough to interact with their own bodies because it is sinful and ‘only a husband it was created for.’
6. We subtly keep breeding girls who would become murderers when their finally gotten husbands have a fling- as we call it- because she expects his faithfulness as a compulsory reward for hers.
If we refuse to do the needful, then we can continue to bury our heads, like the ostrich, in the sand of religion and culture and this clichè half-baked heck of a message because we fear knowledge and enlightenment. But of course, at a cost.
Favour Ebubechukwu (Staff Writer)

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